DOE Plans Next Generation of Nuclear Weapons

DOE Plans Next Generation of Nuclear Weapons

The Department of Energy (DOE) will hold four public scoping hearings in New Mexico in early December for the Notice of Intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for its proposed Complex 2030. DOEÕs plans under Complex 2030 include a massive reorganization and refurbishment of the nuclear weapons complex. This giant shift in operations is being offered as a supplemental environmental impact statement to the 1996 Stockpile Stewardship and Management PEIS in what activists see as an attempt to mask the scale of the proposed changes. The public scoping process provides local residents with the opportunity to express their concerns or questions through written or oral comments to DOE officials. Joni Arends, of CCNS, strongly encourages local residents to attend these important hearings as DOEÕs new mission will greatly impact the public health and environmental safety of New Mexicans.

"We who live next to the DOE sites experience the historical and current environmental and health impacts from the development of nuclear weapons. We say, 'Clean up the existing mess, donÕt make new ones,'" said Arends.

DOE claims that the production of new nuclear weapons is necessary because the current stockpile is aging and may no longer be certifiable for future use. Specifically, DOE is referring to the plutonium pit of a warhead. The pit is the core component or trigger of a nuclear bomb. Currently, DOE estimates a pit lifetime of 45 to 60 years. However, an independent review of this estimate was mandated by congress and is due to be released shortly. Scientists and government officials familiar with the study state that the reports authors have extended the estimate to 90 years or more.

In addition, Nuclear Watch New Mexico has calculated that the average age of the planned enduring stockpile is currently under 21 years. Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said "The oldest nuclear weapons in the planned U.S. stockpile are 28 years old. There are increasing signs that plutonium pits last around a century. This means the U.S. simply doesnÕt need new nuclear weapons, especially while we preach to others that they canÕt have weapons of mass destruction." Instead of building new nuclear weapons, activists support taking significant steps to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. military doctrine and foreign policy. By doing so, the United States would take the lead in moving all nuclear nations toward the goals of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty.

Sadaf Cameron, of CCNS, said, "The hearings are our opportunity to bring forth our vision of the nuclear weapons complex in 2030, one where the United States meets its Non-Proliferation Treaty agreements by the year 2030, if not before. 'Do as I say and not as I do' is not a viable foreign policy and will only make the world more dangerous."

The Complex 2030 public scoping hearings will be held in early December at four locations around New Mexico. They will be held in Socorro on the 4th, in Albuquerque on the 5th, in Los Alamos on the 6th in the morning and in Santa Fe, on the 6th in the evening.

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